AFTER an absence of two years, coach S. Veloo returns to the thick of action in the Penang football scene with a new challenge.
The former Penang state and USM FC head coach has been entrusted with the responsibility to chart the fortunes of the Penang Under-21 team in the President Cup competition.
Veloo, who spent the last two years pursuing a master’s degree in the United Kingdom, was also attached to the former English Premier League champions Blackburn Rovers during the period.
And the coach is now eager to implement what he has learnt from the English club.
“I’m happy to guide the Penang Under-21 side because during my stint with Blackburn, my focus was on youth development.
“I learnt a lot, especially the tactical aspects, at Blackburn. Every aspect of running a football team is handled professionally in England.
“I’ve begun implementing some of the things I learnt when training the Under-21 boys.
“So far, the players have not faced many problems in adapting to the new techniques and changes,” said Veloo.
The Penang President Cup squad were well beaten 0-3 by the state senior team during a friendly at the Penang Sports Club, but there was no shame in the defeat for the juniors as they managed to hold their own.
In the President Cup competition format, the 20 teams are divided into two groups.
Only the top four finishers in each of the group at the end of the league stage will qualify for the quarter-finals.
“For the past five years, Penang have not made it to the quarter-finals. The minimum requirement I demand is a top four finish in our group so we can qualify for the knockout stages,” said the coach.
“The players have been training for the past four weeks, and are currently in the conditioning phase.
“I’m happy with the players’ progress so far and we still have time to improve further before the competition starts.
“This year’s Penang Under-21 squad are a blend of youth and experience.
“I have seven players retained from last year’s squad while the remaining 17 are new players.
“My job is not just to produce results on the pitch but to also produce good young talents who can go on to the senior state team in the future,” said Veloo
Veloo will be assisted by coaches Zabidi Hassan and Hisham Jainuddin.
Penang’s last success as the President Cup champions was in 2004 when they beat Johor 2-1 in the final.